“I want to listen to nature”
“I actually really like to hear my breathing on a long run”
If that’s you, great, but I’m no better than the rest and my legs aren’t moving unless the sound of Taylor Swift is loud in my ears. Maybe your preference on artists varies, but the principle is clear: fast beats trigger quick feet and less mental turmoil. There’s a good reason behind why wireless earphones have become the holy grail of the 21st century, so here’s to eliminating the stigma against music on runs, backed by science (kind of).
Runner Rule: music can be just as essential as a good pair of sneakers
The conversation concerning music as a catalyst for better running is about as clear as… everything you’ve ever come across that’s been unclear. Humans are the most inconsistent test subjects. We have good days and bad, and that’s just life. The human experience cannot be quantified and summarized by beakers and labs. That’s why, if you type this hypothesis into the search bar, you’ll find multiple different conclusions to the same question. With that being said, here’s what researchers have agreed on: music with higher BPM is more stimulating. Though there is no direct correlation between BPM and running speed, the way music affects dopamine levels plays a role in runner mentality. In simpler terms, it cannot be scientifically stated that music will make you move faster, but it does make you want to move. RPE (rating of perceived exertion) has been proven to lower when exercising with music because the determination of effort attributed to the task feels like less work than it would without music. This is because music provides a distraction against the fatigue that accompanies a strenuous workout or a grueling solo long run. Additionally, the Journal of Human Kinetics found “evidence of 8% lower blood lactate concentration in those who listened to music while running.” Researchers are chalking this evidence up to the relaxing effects of music, which they presume decrease muscle tension which ultimately increases blood flow to improve lactate clearance (Sciendo 2022).
In essence, overcoming those long, mundane, repetitive miles are what make good runners great. Music is just a tool to ease your mind along the way, and maybe minimize blood lactate concentration.
Quite honestly, I’m an ultramarathon-distance-everyday-of-the-year away from being a scientist, but if there are three things I know to be true in the world of science, it is this:
- The mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell
- CATions are PAWsitive (+)
- The placebo effect is REAL.
There’s power in tricking yourself. If the sounds of nature are enough, then congratulations to you, Cinderella reincarnated. But if you are at a loss without lyrics, consider reconnecting those earphones. Here’s to unplugging…while staying plugged-in and getting outside.
As I said before…the placebo effect is real. And if we have that, then we might as well bring along the controversial theory of BPM’s.
Do they help? Do they not?
That’s for you to decide, and if you decide in favor of the BPMs effectiveness then you’re in luck. We’ve created three playlists organized between 60-120 BPM, 121 BPM-139 BPM, and 140 BPM+ so you’ll have music for your easy days, longer tempos, and the days where your goal is to leave everything on the track.